Rach's Reviews > Many Waters

Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle
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's review
Apr 06, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: ebook, israel, favorites, 2014
Read from March 11 to 15, 2014

This is another book that was a favorite of mine as a kid, and I'm happy to say, I love it still! This time I listened to it (mostly on a long drive from Portland to Seattle), and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to soak in the story in a different way. Also, I've always assumed Dennys was pronounced like "Denny's", not like "Dennis." Apparently I was wrong! Whoops!

One of my favorite things about this book is the mix of the classic Bible story, which I of course know by heart, and the detained science of tesseracts and quantum mechanics and all that other stuff I don't understand. Nothing happens "because magic", but because of established scientific principles. Even the unicorns are explained scientifically, not necessarily why they exist, but how they move and interact with the environment around them. Sandy and Dennys end up in the past because they messed around with the computer running their dad's experiment with space-time. When it came time to come home, they didn't just cross their fingers and hope to magically be transported home, they thought it through and came up with a plan that they hypothesized would work, based on their knowledge of the way unicorns and seraphim interact with space and time. It wasn't magic, it was science.

Sandy and Dennys have long been some of my favorite of all of Madeline L'Engle's characters, and they are definitely my favorite of the Murray kids. I think the reason I like them so much is because they aren't proud or arrogant. Maybe it's a complex from having such smart siblings, but the twins always assumed they weren't that smart, and weren't that special. It took this trip into the past for them to see themselves clearly, to truly realize how smart and special they were, and how much they had to offer the world. Just because neither of them are child-prodigy-smart like Charles Wallace doesn't mean they aren't smart, in addition to being hardworking, diligent, faithful, caring, and unselfish.

I love how this book introduces to characters we might "know" from the Bible, but expands upon what exactly we knew, really introducing us to them personally. From Lamech to Noah to Noah's sons and their wives, we truly get to know them and love them. And then there are the characters that are never mentioned in the Bible, but surely existed, like Yalith. Yalith is a gentle, loving girl, who ends up loving both of the twins equally. When I was a young, romantic teenager, it annoyed me to no end that Yalith wouldn't pick which twin she loved more. Clearly it was Dennys, right? The one she tended to for weeks and nursed back from the brink of death? How sweet and romantic is that? But as much as I once hated her seeming indecision, I appreciate it now. It is so rare to find stories in which the main character loves more than one person, yet I feel that is more like real life, where you don't necessarily have a "true love" that you are destined to meet and fall in love with. Instead, you have a handful of people that are compatible with you and whom you could love and build a life with, and you have to pick one and stick with your chosen person through thick and thin. Yes, Yalith would have had to make choice between the twins eventually, had they all stayed together and grown up, but their relationships didn't reach that point. Instead, (view spoiler)

All the other peoples and creatures in the story were fascinating as well. First of all, you have the Seraphim and Nephalim. Both are "sons of God", aka angels, but because of the ways in which they came down to earth, they were separated and have different motives, different ambitions, and different abilities. The Nephalim chose to come to earth and intermarry and interbreed with the humans, and are stuck on earth and separated from God. The Seraphim chose to come down to earth to protect the humans, but they still kept themselves separate physically and were still able to leave earth when they needed, and still spoke to God. The way both creatures could change form was also fascinating, kind of like the animagus in Harry Potter.

There were other creatures that don't exist in our time (or do they?!?), like unicorns, mammoths, griffins, and manticores. The unicorns are fascinating because of their strange ability to be and not be. When one is called, it appears, but the second it "is not believed in", it disappears again. It doesn't go anywhere, it just ISN'T, because it's not being observed. I'll be honest, I don't necessarily understand the math and science behind it all, but I still find it fascinating. Also, how awesome and adorable are the mammoths? I kept picturing them like John Green's puppy-sized elephants, and it made me want my own!

One of the hardest things for Sandy and Dennys coming out of their adventure would be not telling anyone what happened, and that seems like their plan at the end of the book. How can you hide so much character growth, though, especially from those closest to you? Not only were they gone for months, though they returned to their own time right after they left it originally, but they'd been through so much both physically and emotionally. They'd both fallen in love for the first time and then lost that love; they'd made friends and a home in a place to which they could never returned. They'd learned to listen to the stars, and the wind, and themselves to figure out what they should do a difficult situation. So how can they just go back to being the twins, the least-smart of the Murrays? I'd always wished L'Engle would write more books about the teenage years of the twins, because I'm sure they had amazing adventures, and I find myself still wishing that. Alas, that's not meant to be.

I leave this book wishing I understood more about science, but loving how much it makes me think about things like time and space and the way we interact with others, and the way our society and culture differs from others. The next book I'm going to be listening to in the car is another by L'Engle, and another of my favorites, which also teams with time travel, and stars the twins' niece, Polly. It is An Acceptable Time.
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03/11/2014 marked as: currently-reading
03/17/2014 marked as: read

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